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How To Run A Pellet Stove During A Power Outage

How To Run A Pellet Stove Without Electricity

Do you want to know how to run a pellet stove during a power outage? If you have a pellet stove and rely on it for your heat, then pay attention to this article.

Without electricity during the winter (severe storm, snow/ice, high winds), your home or cabin will get cold quick!

It’s really not that complicated to set this system up. I will first run through the calculations to exemplify typical power consumption of a pellet stove. Then we’ll see what we can do to keep it running during a power outage / blackout.

How Much Electricity Does A Pellet Stove Use?

First, as with all typical pellet stoves that I’m aware of, they require a 120 volt AC power source (typical in-home electricity).

Second, we need to discover the power power consumption or the AC current requirements before we can figure out what we will need to run our pellet stove during a power outage.

I am going to use my own pellet stove as an example, a Harman model.

The electrical requirements listed in their spec sheet are as follows, however I will give you real world measurements afterwards:

Specifications:
Start up: 4.0 amps (460 watts)
Run: 3.0 amps (345 watts)

Note: I am certain that these specs are for everything full-on or everything (all fans, auger speed, etc.) on highest setting, plus a margin…

My real world measurements are MUCH less during normal run time. When the ignitor initially fires up there is a brief condition (a few minutes) of higher consumption.

Real world measurements:
Start up: 3.0 amps (360 watts)
Run: 0.7 amps (80 watts averaged over time)

Battery & Inverter

Make your own emergency backup power source to run a pellet stove during a power outage. You will need at least one deep cycle 12-volt battery and an inverter to convert 12 volts DC to 120 volts AC.

DC to AC Inverter for Pellet Stove

The inverter that you choose will have to produce at least the maximum load of your pellet stove. In my case that would be 460 watts based on the Harman spec sheet, or 360 watts based on my real world measurements. It’s always wise to look at a worst case scenario when specifying a system, so lets look for a 500 watt inverter.

The only time when the inverter will be loaded down will be the few minutes when the ignitor is on. Otherwise it will be cruising well below it’s rated maximum during normal operation.

I have chosen the following inverter:
Samlex America PST-600-12 Pure Sine Wave Inverter (600 watts)

I have several Samlex America products and although a bit more expensive they are commercial grade. They’re professionally designed and built to safely operate electrical & electronics without damaging them. The “pure sine wave” output is the cleanest you can get, especially good and safe for electronic devices.

Think of it this way: This inverter can also be used for other duties to operated other 120 volt devices during an emergency, not just your pellet stove. Lights, a TV, etc..

Battery to Inverter Cables

You might either make up your own cables to connect from the battery to inverter or you might simply purchase one ready made. Bear in mind that you will need a cable set that can carry the full rating of the inverter. In my example, 600 watts, which is 50 amps (@ 12 volts DC).

The following set of 8 gauge jumper cables will do it. Simply cut the cable set in half and strip the non-clamp ends to bare wire. This will insert into the DC input connectors of the inverter.

8 Gauge Booster Cable

A Cheaper Inverter

A less expensive inverter may still get the job done, and I have selected one for your consideration:

UFire Modified Sine Wave Power Inverter (500 watts)
(comes with alligator clip extension for battery connection)

Note that I have no experience with the UFire brand. I selected it due to its mostly favorable reviews. It is however a “modified sine wave” inverter (why it costs less) and not as “clean” as a pure sine wave inverter. That said, in many circumstances this will probably be okay for a pellet stove. Pure sine is better for electronic devices.

Battery For Pellet Stove During A Power Outage

Now that you have an inverter, you will need a battery! Here’s the important thing to remember: The battery must have enough capacity to run your pellet stove for a reasonable amount of time.

What does that translate to? A typical 12 volt “deep cycle” marine type battery will be rated for about 100 AH (Amp Hours). This will be displayed on the battery itself. And this will be your limiting factor as to how long you can run your pellet stove.

Let me explain…

If you are using a 100 AH rated 12vdc deep cycle battery, and if your pellet stove draws 100 watts on average, this battery will be 50% discharged in 6 hours.

Formula:
100 watts = 8.3 amps (100 W / 12 VDC)
100 watts / 8.3 amps = 12 hours (fully discharged)
12/2 = 6 hours (50% discharged)

Important: Never fully discharge a lead acid battery. It will damage the battery. Rule of thumb not to discharge beyond 50% before recharging so to prolong the life of the battery.

Note: If you connect two batteries in parallel (plus to plus and minus to minus) you will double the capacity and run time.

Use Your Car Battery

Another alternative would be to connect your inverter to your car battery. Run an extension cord into your house to operate the pellet stove. You could start your vehicle up now and again to charge the battery.

Related article: Best Extension Cord

SUMMARY
All you need is an inverter and battery (or batteries) to run your pellet stove during a power outage for a relatively short term period.

Although I indicated that a single typical 100 AH battery may run a typical pellet stove for 6 hours, in reality you might not have it running all of the time. This would lengthen your run time.

Also, your own stove may have different energy demands. Here is an excellent and inexpensive electrical meter that I use to measure the power consumption of appliances. I have a solar powered off-grid system and this has been invaluable while calculating energy needs.

KILL A WATTβ„’ meter

I explain more about it in the following article:
How To Measure Energy Consumption Of Appliances

Hopefully this article has helped some of you who may have been concerned about losing the heating ability of your pellet stove during a power outage.

And before some of you say it, I’ll say it first… A wood stove won’t have this problem.

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36 Comments

  1. I’m so glad to see that you have a Harman pellet stove. I used to sell and install Harman stoves. They are the absolute best!

  2. Just a comment on running the vehicle to charge a battery. Most newer vehicles and I mean the last 20 years are designed to maintain a battery not charge it. If you try charging this way very often you will burn up the alternator.

  3. Great info Ken, dont have a pellet stove but been looking for a bit bigger inverter etc

  4. Ken,

    great info! I can adapt this to run our propane-fired instantaneous hot water boiler for our in-floor heating system. Maybe hook the whole thing up with a battery and a 120 volt trickle charger to keep it charged up.

    1. It all hinges on the power demands of your system (watts and/or amps). Then you can figure out how long your battery (or battery bank) will last.

  5. I am not one that has or ever had a Pellet Stove, yet have had many Pallet Stoves and burn the heck out of them.

    Not wanting to open a huge fight over a Pellet Stove and a Wood Stove, but seems to me that Pellet Stover are rather limited in the Fuel one can use…. Maybe?

    Whereas a Wood Stove one can burn practically everything from Pallets to Old Underwear, making it slightly more versatile…. Maybe? I even have seen some make a “drip system” for used oil, vegetable oils and Diesels, probably not EPA approved but ohhhhh well.

    I 100% agree in having some sort of Inverter ready for use, and some storage Batteries, I would add some small Solar Charger for re-charging the Batteries.

    My 2Β’ wroth

    1. NRP ,,,,,,was just at TRACTOR SUPPLY they had a pellet stove that was NON electric. has a heat driven fan ,,, a pellet stove will also work with corn and some grains ,canola for one,, Know of some one that presses his own pellets out of hay and other crop waste. I’m thinking about such a set up for my self , but alas I have so much fire wood standing and cut in cold deck that we will probably not do it ,at least as long as I can manage to put up wood. ,, Old farts are stubborn you know
      Hot chocolate and cookies

      1. 0ldhomesteader

        “Old farts are stubborn you know”

        WHAT!!!???

        I am NOT stubborn, I’m just going to do it MY way, even if wrong. AND often times are.

    2. A system for recharging the batteries is a whole different level, and food for many additional articles.

      From a long term SHTF standpoint, a wood stove is certainly better – so long as you have the ability to harvest your own wood and process it. The processing part during SHTF without chainsaws and log splitters is daunting indeed.

      Other than that, pellets are a cost effective way to heat one’s home.

  6. Ken,

    Have a question I just thought about. Could you get by with two larger deep cycle batteries indefinitely by using a second battery and inverter to run a battery charger to charge the battery that is being used to run the stove?

    If so, that set-up could be useful for a ton of applications; in other words, first set-up runs whatever you want, second system charges the first, then reversing to charge the second system.

    1. That’s a negative. No such thing as free energy ;)

      In fact you would lose more energy that way due to the built-in inefficiencies of the charger itself. A net loss.

      1. Perpetual energy. If anyone can figure that one out, they will rule the world!! Or more likely disappear without a trace once tptb find out they’ll lose their $ donors. Lol

  7. Addendum to the previous post. The more I thought about it, a three battery system with two inverter s might run themselves for the life of the batteries if need be: the first system runs whatever, the second system charges the first. When the charging battery needs recharged, rotate the third into the equation switching the charger back-and-forth to keep the other auxiliary two charging themselves.

    Yikes, hows that’s for a mind twister, lol!

    1. Sydney ,,,,,,bad advice ,,,,,,there is a fixed amount of energy in a battery. The amount of loss you would incure doing that would be huge. , there is no free ride. Better off to mount a alternator on a stationary bike and go for a ride at home ,,,

    1. Mrs. USMCBG
      When we had a pellet stove you could warm food on it, but not cook. Of course ours was close to a first generation unit. Loved it until the power went out…solar power with inverter were just coming to fruition at that time.
      Would do it again but dh had developed allergies to wood smoke, so a pellet stove is out for us. We do have a propane gas fire place but the blower sounds like they took it off a leaf blower and stuck in our house.

    2. A pellet stove has a fan (or fans) to blow out the heat. The outer shell does not get as hot as a wood stove. So while it may warm something on top, it will not heat it up as you expect like a wood stove would.

  8. I gotta tell ya, theres something to be said for living on Maui!
    No need for heat, no need for AC, year round growing conditions,

    1. Nailbanger,
      I hear that – one of the few benefits of where I live. No A/C needed (well, maybe on a few of the very hottest days it would be nice) and it doesn’t get cold enough that we would be in danger if we had no heat source.

      Now, the new mountain house (BOL), different story altogether. Winter without heat source it would be impossible.

      1. I can pretty much live in t shirts and flip flops, i dont, but i totally can. Its november and was 80 today, sunny, even in february it will be sunny and 70s-80s most days. Can plant new stuff out in the garden whenever, doesnt really matter,
        Pellet stove? Meh

        1. Man oh man. You make me jealous. Right at this moment it’s 17 degrees outside (albeit a bit unusually early for that!).

          I do envy your mild weather!

          1. Sister is in MT, i guess they are getting into the low single digits too,
            No need to envy bud, was just rubbin it in and ribbin ya! I have just been blessed, the Lord has provided what there is no way in hell i could do for myself under the circumstances and for that i am eternally greatful. You folks live in some beautiful country up there.

  9. Those are definitely positives! No easy or quick evacuation, difficult and expensive to get supplies in,… immediately affected by port strikes… No matter where we live, every place has positives and negatives… all really good reasons to be prepared in a different manner.

    1. Evac? For what? Strike? Meh,,,
      Honestly, with a little foresight, most stuff wont be much of an issue, hasnt been in over 50 years, sure i suppose that could change but i doubt it, im not a sheeple afterall, im prepped and loaded for whatever and dont live in an urban area

  10. Nailbanger, we’re on our way πŸ˜„ I see that Adirondack Stoves has a nice non electric unit, as well as Wiseway offers one too. Has anyone here ever used a non electric unit? Good idea about bicycle powered alternator. What would one need to use in order to prevent an overcharge of the battery?

  11. Besides the Wiseway non-electric pellet stove that Tractor Supply carries, there is also the Liberator (rocketheater.com) non-electric pellet stove.

    I own the Liberator and it works wonderfully as a non-electric pellet stove. It is also a rocket heater and can burn sticks, waste lumber, bark, chipped wood, etc. besides pellets.

  12. Ken,
    In theory a 100ah battery could power the stove for 6 hours, but in practice, you’ll be lucky to get 4 hours. System inefficiencies, and Peukert’s Law, will take their toll. Beyond that, if you’re charging with solar PV, don’t forget that extended cloud cover will result in partially charged batteries at times, and that makes for a cold night. If you want to keep warm, consider a battery capacity of 400 to 800 amp hours, and ample PV for charging, even under less than ideal conditions.

    1. John,

      Indeed. The more the better. For someone just looking for a way to operate their pellet stove under short term power outage conditions, at least this will get them going for awhile and the stove won’t be sitting there as a boat anchor while the house gets colder… I would certainly recommend at least two batteries in parallel if it can be afforded. Again, logically the more batteries the more ‘up time’ for the stove.

      My current solar powered battery bank would total 2400 AH if it were wired as 12 vdc. The system though is configured to 48 vdc (600 AH) for the inverter. It gets me by for a good period of time, especially if careful with consumption within the house.

      We get plenty of cloudy days up here during the Fall and Winter, and I do watch that state-of-charge meter!

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